Following on from last month’s roundup, time has passed, a year has changed. On a personal note, things are more positive. At least more so than the white-noise of December.
Books & Media
Of things read recently, they’ve been all over the place, genre-wise. Claire Trévien has a fab review over at Sabotage of Akwe Amosu’s Not Goodbye – I loved “Prayer for Rain“. Currently reading Margaret Atwood’s Hagseed, which I adore. I am a sucker for takes on The Tempest, and this has a fab unreliable narrator too of a creative director who is reenacting his revenge for being ousted from the local theatre festival through a production within a prison workshop. Some lovely touches, not least in the nice play of protagonist “Felix” and nemesis “Tony”.
Devoured Bitch Planet Vol 1 [DeConnick, De Landro, Wilson, Soma, Peter, Cowles] in the one sitting – shall definitely grab the next one when it comes out. Set in a futuristic women’s prison it covers corruption, racism, sexism and revenge with some characters I look forward to get to know better. Also caught volume 1 of Faith: Hollywood and Vine [Houser, Portela, Sauvage], which was light and cheerful, though I’m unfamiliar with the original source comics. On another comic note, I’m currently subscribed to Shade the Changing Girl [Castellucci, Zarcone, Way] which is massively trippy and will need some re-reads, as the world expands. I have a lot of nostalgic fondness for Shade the Changing Man, as I used to get odd issues from the 10p boxes – it usually worked in that fashion – completely different locations, worlds, dangers. I must actually try and track down an omnibus collection so I get more context(!). Love how the new Shade’s worlds combine, and how the madness bleeds through. Gorgeously drawn.
On a book note, never have I missed my stop as much as when I’ve been reading Aliette de Bodard‘s The House of Shattered Wings, which was a slow burner but enjoyable alt-history fantasy with fallen angels, houses of magic, old grudges and the conflict from the colonisation of South East Asia. The first in a trilogy.
In my catching up with classic films I’ve never got around to seeing, I saw The Godfather I & II – which were (obviously) great. I almost want to go back to the first one and rewatch having seen the flashbacks/history of Brando in the sequel. The cinematography was stunning, with some lovely framing and echoing of poses/situations.
Another thing I adored was 3% [Netflix, Brazil], which is a bit like The Hunger Games, if they’d addressed the resistance from the start in a series of ‘tests’ given to 20 year olds with the goal being to leave the deprivation of inland and go ‘offshore’. Engaging cast, and a plot that had me hanging throughout. Roll on the next series.
Started Destiny on PS4, which would be great as a co-op if people were not all level capped wandering about while I get destroyed by knight swarms at level 4. I object in principle to games that won’t local co-op. It’s one of the reasons I’ve bought so many Borderlands 2 DLCs – local co-op is fun. You sit with your people and shoot things. You don’t have to have a solid internet connection, or be online at the same time in the same way. That said, anyone who wants to shoot things in Destiny with me, let me know.
Speaking of video game mechanics – started Watchdogs, which I enjoy except for the fact that I’m generally slow to pick up controls, and the sheer amount of GTA-like driving quests end up in me somewhat annoyed at the thing for not escaping police in time again.
Out and About
No Man’s Land, NT Live – I couldn’t get tickets to the actual performance, so ended up watching it live at the O2 in Finchley Road. Not knowing anything about the play (or indeed, any of Pinter), I came to it fresh. The cast were great, with McKellen and Stewart playing off each other fabulously as always, and quite enjoyed listening to their Q&A afterwards reminiscing on the original performance and the take on dementia. Reminded me, in some aspects, of Sleuth, that manages to really ramp up the tension between Olivier/Caine to almost uncomfortable levels.
For something completely different, Kiki’s Delivery Service at the Southwark Playhouse was wonderful – with Eiko Kadono’s story adapted for the stage by Jessica Siân. I’d not known it had a separate life outside of the Ghibli, and it managed to stand completely independently, with a small cast managing to convey a whole lively town well through some great costume changes and movement. The cat puppet and actor was also fabulous. That said, probably because I did see it mid-December, a story about a girl who messes up on her job and lets people down (even if she does pick herself up from that knock) was a bit too close to home. Christ on a bike, I’m glad December’s over.
Cinema – Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them – which was whitewashed fluff with some great creature design but some questionable plot and character choices. Saw Attack the Block (Cornish) at BFI IMAX, which was definitely a good film to see massive. It survived the screen well. Will have a look to see what else is on there. Became a member of the Prince Charles Cinema, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but realised there are a few things coming up I’ve my eye on (mostly the Tarkovsky season).
In another real-life thing, found a cafe (Brü) that opens late in Harrow that has decent tea and ice cream. But also opens late. It almost makes the place less of a ghost town after the shops close. Went for a wander in central London near New Year’s – past midnight you’ve got to step through a forcefield between the completely deserted tourist traps to where the life is, with open food and bars and people. Quite bizarre. Must do more of that, particularly as I’ve signed up to do the Half-Moonwalk.
Still using Bullet Journal, and starting to track moods and actions in earnest. It’s also a good way to actually do the scrapbooking I enjoy doing as and when, rather than saved up forever. Got a new phone that’s got a decent “manual” camera that I am definitely enjoying getting some use out of (as above, N18).
- Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple’s Vantablack/Pinkest Pink altercations
- BAFTA’s commitment to diversity
- How to reference medieval manuscripts on Twitter
- #notallmen Bohemian Rhapsody
- Chris Hadfield’s Tweet thread of positive 2016 things
- Flavia Dzodan’s tweet thread on the rise of the political right through sharing ideologies and building networks. This is a must read.
- Carrie Fisher’s young diary entries about unhealthy relationships
Going to try and do some takes on some of the cookbooks I’ve got in a more formal fashion. Happy to have success thusfar with Gordon Ramsay’s roast pork butterflied with sage and garlic and tied up again. Similarly, got a lot of compliments for a take on Nigella Lawson’s parsnips mashed with porcini water and liberal amounts of nutmeg and thyme.